The Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA) is issuing higher penalties for companies that do not report severe injuries or illnesses under its revised policy, according to a recent Business Insurance article. The revised reporting rule went into effect in 2015 and enlarged the scope of the requirement imposed on employers to inform OSHA of certain severe injuries, as well as hospitalizations, within 24 hours of management learning about the event. Despite more than 10,000 reports of severe injuries by employers in 2015, OSHA projected the number to be around 12,000 according to the report.
OSHA’s new rules state that the failure to report a workplace injury that qualifies as severe will carry a penalty that has increased to $5,000 from the minimum penalty under the previous guidelines of $1,000. Under limited circumstances, OSHA’s Area Directors may be able to increase the $5,000 penalty to $7,000 in an effort to achieve a needed “deterrent effect” of a serious violation. A recent study found that as much as 50 percent of severe injuries are not reported to OSHA. A willful violation of intentionally failing to report may result in a penalty of as much as $70,000.00.
In addition to higher fines, the new procedures mandate that OSHA not use an employer’s investigation report as a guideline to establish violations. Instead, there is a safe harbor provision under which OSHA initiates its Rapid Response Investigation (RRI) and then conducts a follow-up inspection that is done only after receiving a written investigation report from the employer.
Know Your Rights
There are certain categories of workers who are not covered by the state’s workers’ compensation laws. These include farm laborers, employees of an employer with less than three employees regularly working for him or her, domestic servants, independent contractors, most railroad employees, and U.S. government employees. Under state law, the term injury has a very broad definition under Georgia’s Workers’ Compensation Act. An injury not only includes a sudden accident but also many physical issues that may come about gradually. Additionally, some diseases are compensable. Catastrophic injuries are also covered under the state’s workers’ compensation law and includes:
- Severe brain injury;
- Spinal cord injury resulting in severe paralysis;
- Amputation of a hand, arm, leg, or foot;
- Second or third degree burns over 25 percent of the body, or third degree burns over five percent or more of the face or hands;
- Total or industrial blindness; and
- Any other injury that is severe enough to prevent the person from doing almost any work.
Receipt of Social Security Disability benefits proves the injury was catastrophic.
Savannah Workers’ Compensation Help
You should consult with and hire a Georgia workers’ compensation lawyer who is well respected and knowledgeable in the law. If you or someone you know has been injured on the job and has suffered an injury, sickness or disability because of this incident, contact an experienced Savannah workers’ compensation attorney today who can discuss your case. The legal professionals at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers can inform you of your legal rights under the law, including whether or not you are eligible for worker’s compensation. Click here today to schedule your initial case evaluation.